A New Hampshire Advantage

In recent weeks, Presidential hopefuls have begun paying barnstorming visits to New Hampshire, a phenomenon sure to increase in the months ahead for this first-in-the-nation Presidential primary state.

Whether chatting with breakfast diners, glad-handing tavern patrons, hosting “town hall” question and answer sessions or making their case at fundraising dinners, whichever candidate interests you is likely to be planning a visit down the road or across town or in the community next door.

We encourage you to take a personal look at the candidates, check out the man or woman behind the public relations hype, and hear for yourself whether your views match up to the promises of the person who is eager for your vote.

In the next few months, you should have the chance to see a horde of candidates in person. We urge you to make time to do so. We live in a state that gives us the opportunity to vote for a candidate based on our personal impression, not what a paid promoter wants us to think. That’s an opportunity residents of other states can only envy.

If you’re a Democrat or an Independent, you should be in the room with the Republican candidates as well. Hear for yourself what they are saying, if for no other reason than to know the opposition.

But the clock is ticking. Winning or losing in New Hampshire doesn’t seal the fate of any candidate, but it definitely plays a significant role in what will happen in other states in the months ahead.

So ask some questions. And if you have the chance, don’t accept the answer of “I favor smaller government, I want to end health care reform, I want to cut the deficit, I want a strong foreign policy.

Anyone can say that – and more often than not, they do. Anyone can attack their presumed opponent rather than express their own views.

Platitudes and generalities mean nothing. Push the candidate to offer specifics. How will each candidate help the unemployed? How does a candidate’s religious views impact his or her decision making? How will a candidate “fix” Social Security in laymen’s language? What can be done about ISIS?

Ask real questions – politely. If you don’t get real answers, keep in mind that failure to answer or be specific may be the most telling answer of all.

By virtue of living here, the significance of our vote resonates from one coast to the other, from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico. That’s another reason to vote intelligently. And that means asking tough questions and making up our minds for ourselves.

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